It’ll Get Done

Let’s talk about the weather for a sec, like people do.

[Wait, first… a photo of a peony about to bloom. If you follow BYI on Instagram, you might have already seen this:]

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OK. I don’t know about the weather where you are, but the weather here in old central IL has been less than helpful in terms of partnering with me personally (because it’s all about me, right??) to get the garden into the ground. By mid-May, warm weather stuff – tomatoes, herbs, peppers – have typically been planted, the worst of the spring weeds vanquished, the flower seeds sown, and the few planters we do have lurking here at 909 have something in them that was actually put there on purpose.

Thanks to rain timed to coincide with the end of the workday and/or weekends, I’m 25% of the way there. OK, 40%. I’m kind of mortified. It really isn’t just the rain – it’s also working off the premises and taking care of other business. Time’s gotten away from me. I do way less for the garden than I used to – when I bought a bunch of vegetable and herb starts at the farmers market this past weekend, Jon from Blue Moon was all, hey, whatever happened with your home seed start production? And I was like, dude, I haven’t had the chance to start seeds in 5 years, so THANK YOU for making these available! – but I got in front of that by planting some food that basically grows itself every year, like asparagus, blackberries, apples, and perennial herbs. Garlic doesn’t grow itself, but I planted it last fall, so that counts. I love food that mostly grows itself. And I love farmers who start seeds and offer those starts at farmers markets.

Anyway. I’ve planted the planters (which helps psychologically because they’re cheerful, full of cheap marigolds and portulaca*) and I’ve bought/dug the starts I want,  and have planted some kale and beets and salad mix. Um, it’s not June yet, so I’m going to just be OK with it.

My weed patch and brush pile, though – let me show them to you. I call this photo “Still Life with Old Holiday Wreath and Creeping Charlie, Mint, and Aging Wheelbarrow”.

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The coolest part of working in the yard when I could over this past (sunny) weekend was seeing/hearing my neighbors do likewise. It’s been so damn rainy and I hadn’t seen anyone for weeks. Chris and Melony next door did some hard time in their yard. Virginia, an elder woman who lives behind us, was working on her lovely yard with a friend. I went a few houses down to my new neighbor (and old friend) Bruce’s house to ID some plants for him. And I saw Lara, a block over, being a TGB**. I’m not sure she left her yard the entire day. As a result of the damned hard work she and Phil have put in since they bought the place a few years ago, their yard/garden/chicken coop are among the most incredible-looking in Urbana. You can see what everything looked like last year in “Henthusiasm“, starting at 4:21. Seriously, if garden coaching were a thing (and maybe it should be) Lara would KILL IT. She has an artist’s eye for color and placement, much enthusiasm and fire, is fearless about trying things, does not believe one should have to spend a lot of money to have an awesome garden, and does not ever tire, apparently.

LOTSA (Lisa’s Open Tabs, Saved Aggressively):

Tim (the other half of BYI Video) and I are experimenting with Slack as a collab tool

I’m interested in the concept of a mastermind group for some motivation

Ira Glass (This American Life) ruffled some public media feathers recently and came back with this explanation

Be kind

The challenges of editing while female

Crafting a pitch email (needed this a few days ago)

Widespread automation and resource depletion are my big worries – and both are happening faster than anyone truly realizes

Shit People Say to Women Directors is a most amazing/infuriating blog

 

*I am not a fashion planter gardener. I’m a “find whatever you can on sale and then stick it into whatever vessel you find in the garage” planter gardener.

**Total Garden Badass

Satisfaction

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April = satisfaction. Leaves emerge. Birds sing. Severe weather threatens. We survived winter, friends. WE PREVAILED.

Some things:

– I’m doing some writing about music – very amateur! I’m rusty as hell! – at Innocent Words. This link will take you to a thing I did about Hüsker Dü drummer Grant Hart. Another piece about (well, sort of) Donita Sparks from L7 was just published yesterday (language, y’all). I’m pretty insecure about my music writing because I’m not a critic. I’m not an academic. I just write about how music makes me feel, or how I remember it made me feel at a certain point in time, and describe those feelings through the lens of now. I don’t think about music as much as I used to. I don’t even listen to music as much as I used to, although that’s changing as a result of this assignment. I think about how old I was (25) when my dad was the age I am now (46) and how he was not even trying to understand “grunge” or Britpop because it all sucked and the music HE had in his 20s was better. JEEZ, DAD. But… while I totally love a lot of the stuff I hear in passing today, I find myself writing about the days of yore. You cannot take the Hugo out of the girl.

– Speaking of the days of yore and writing, I read Viv Albertine‘s memoir while I was on vacation and I loved it so much. I read it in 8 hours. I wanted more. I wanted five hundred more pages. And the device she uses as a “bibliography” – is brilliant.

– Speaking of brilliant, my daughter is doing some fantastic writing for Rookie. She’s a deeply-feeling athlete who doesn’t speak in coachy/jocky platitudes about “gutting it out” or “finding a way to win” – she’s writing stuff like I pour myself so wholeheartedly into the game that when my voice is silenced and my strength sapped I don’t know what to do with myself, how to react, how to adapt. I LOVE HER SO MUCH.

– Tomorrow is video release day and I’m pretty damn excited about it. I’ll post the link when it’s live! Yes!

I’m kind of excited about… everything! All the things! I have a lot to learn about saying yes and saying no and standing up for myself and holding my ground and managing my time and doing the work and basically figuring out what it all means. There are days when I freak out that I’m still doing this at my age, trying to get my shit straight, but I’m starting to realize that it’s never too late, and everyone’s always working on something.

LOTSA (Lisa’s Open Tabs Saved Aggressively):

How to disrupt public radio

Being Boss is my new podcast obsession

I used to work at this bakery in St. Paul and I think this might be the ever-elusive bran muffin recipe

I’m making this for Lilly’s soccer team next week because Smitten Kitchen knows what girls like

My friends Brett and Bonnie talk about art, ecology, Scandinavia

Who’s read Good to Great?

Jealous Curator

Early days of the B-52s

Lessons learned from writing a cookbook

Case made for wearing the same thing to work every day – do you do this?

Rejection is awesome

Road Trip Needed

Florida, Austin, Asheville, Athens G-A, Little Rock, wherever. I feel a need to hit the road and find an outside environment that doesn’t look like Hoth. This landscape is preferable:

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We must road trip this summer – Madison, MPLS-STP, even a couple quick jaunts up to CHGO would count – to fill two purposes: To scratch this nagging travel itch I seem to have going on, and to get Lilly to visit a few schools. Schools as in, colleges and universities. Yes, we’ve arrived at that point. I can’t believe it either, but some very good friends of ours (and they’re our age) have one offspring finishing college and another offspring who, with his partner, just made them grandparents, so clearly that sands through the hourglass thing applies universally. Lesson here is positively BuellerianLife moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. He’s right.

Speaking of stopping and looking around, here’s something I witnessed this past Monday as I was walking the two blocks from where I park my car to my office.

[Sidebar: I enjoy this walk very much, even on the coldest/hottest of days; it’s a buffer between worlds. For those two blocks, I’m preparing to enter a different headspace, and even though it’s just two average residential/campus blocks, it’s still outside, still the natural world. There are lots of trees and squirrels and birds on this block – late last spring, a pair of house finches sang me to work most mornings. There they were, pretty much every day without fail, perched in the same tree, just chirping away. I’m sure they annoyed the living shit out of anyone on the block trying to sleep in, but I was delighted.]

Anyway. I was walking those two blocks to my office. It was cold, but not unreasonably so. It had snowed quite a bit over the weekend, but the sun was out and the sky was cloudless. I lifted my head to take in as much as I could before crossing the street and heading into my office, and when I did, I noticed… bits of snow? Bark? Leaves? Ash? Gray things, with a touch of red, floating down and resting on top of the new snow… down feathers, I suddenly realized, and there were lots of them.

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I looked up. A mid-sized hawk was on the branch just above, poor dead male cardinal in its talons. He/she regarded me, pulled out one last, long, bright red feather, and then decided to eat is meal in peace elsewhere. I probably stood there for 10 seconds before I stooped down, took that last feather, and walked the rest of the block to work.

I love birds. Hawks fascinate me. Cardinals are so gorgeous, especially against new snow – but the snow that throws them into such brilliant, beautiful relief is also what makes them more visible to hawks and other predators. That cardinal’s luck had run out… because the hawk was hungry. I’ve watched (hawk-like) the hawk that lives in our neighborhood and have marveled at its patience. I don’t enjoy seeing it rip a smaller bird apart, but I reckon it’s entitled to enjoy its food after waiting so long, strategizing the entire time.

Hmmmm.

White Lion

Welcome, March 2015.

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It snowed overnight – ten inches – and the neighborhood was out shoveling together this morning, the scent of bacon and coffee on the breeze.

It’s still winter, damn it.

There is, however, a rebellion afoot. The cardinals have literally changed their tune.

Idle Hands Make Pie

As February lurches on – it doesn’t march, it lurches – the days lengthen and the desire to DO SOMETHING, ANYTHING increases. I start trolling the web looking for stuff to do, not unlike a bored toddler, fresh Sharpie in hand, eyeing a blank wall. Building, baking, seed-starting, whatever, but it has to be EXACTLY what I want to be doing and it CANNOT be drudgery and NO ONE can make any suggestions. So this weekend I baked a key lime pie the way Deb at Smitten Kitchen does it because a) I’d been craving limes and b) it’s a sentimental favorite (more on that in a sec).

Production was colorful – the butter (Kerrygold) was a cheerful, robust yellow as it melted, the lime zest an otherworldly green. The entire house reeked of citrus.

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Making the crust and the filling were absurdly easy, though juicing the limes was a bit hard on my hands (we no longer have a citrus juicer, alas). And while I’m always nervous that pies of this type will never set properly and leave me with a pie plate full of graham cracker and goo – I speak from experience – such was not the case. Most of the total time involves the cooling of the pie (twice – once for the filling, another for the whipped cream on top). Here’s an arty shot, before the whipped cream was applied:

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Why key lime pie, you might ask? Great question. When I was in Florida, growing up, limes were the weird citrus tree. I loved every other citrus fruit, but limes were weird and how could you even tell they were ripe and they seemed to spend more time in beverages than anywhere else, which was suspicious. Of course, we eventually left Florida for Minnesota and, over time, I basically forgot all about limes as anything other than something to put in a gin and tonic or to accompany Mexican food. When we started heading to Florida every winter in the early 2000s, we would also visit my Oma (RIP) for a day and basically steep in fresh-squeezed citrus juice. She didn’t have lime trees, but she juiced the, um, juice out of each and every orange and tangerine on her property. Her neighbors thought she was insane, but she knew better – they’re buying their orange juice at the store, she scoffed. I liked the way she thought. Juicing oranges and tangerines with her, in her kitchen in Titusville, reignited my love for citrus, limes included. We now have a custom of buying the surprisingly-good key lime pie from Publix every time we’re on vacation, but this year, I couldn’t wait. And while Publix makes a decent KLP… well, so do I, as it turns out.

Today’s LOTSA (Lisa’s Open Tabs Saved Aggressively):

Transforming a junk drawer

Creating a buyer persona

Podcast editing tips

Wall Street wants to know where the Twitter users are

Chipotle: The Definitive Oral History

Eddie Huang Against the World

Radio peeps moving to podcasting?

My friend Ken Stringfellow’s blog

All about a button museum in CHGO

Writing For 15 Minutes

I have 15 minutes to get a post written, media uploaded, etc. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

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I have somehow managed to not kill our indoor plants. The key to successfully keeping succulents alive is to not water them all the damn time. As my friend Mathis says, those of us who are used to growing food plants outside tend to overwater succulents, because… well… HOW CAN THEY NOT NEED WATER EVERY DAY? I’ve watchfully ignored this plant and all of its friends and they seem to be thriving. Success. I guess the lessons here are that a) I should listen to the experts because I do not know everything and b) I do not need to helicopter parent my plants.

That said, I’m looking forward to getting back outside. Footage review from stuff we shot last summer has been tortuous – chickens, garden foliage, flowers in glorious HD – and the snow encrusting our driveway and every other outdoor surface seems very last season, all of a sudden.

LOTSA (Lisa’s Open Tabs Saved Aggressively):

The next internet is TV

Synonyms for “hope” (my favorite is “pipe dream”)

Something about media vertical collectives

Amanda Hesser’s Medium page

For those who hate themselves for loving Kinfolk: The Kinspiracy

Farm to table alive and well in Arizona

Free vintage clip art and photos

Reveal – great investigative reporting here

Women and commercial space travel

Greil Marcus’ “Days Between Stations” archive… finally

Welcome

Hi, February. I baked you a cake.

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Despite my efforts, February, it appears Punxatawney Phil saw his shadow today, so this winter isn’t over yet (also confirmed by a look out the window here). However, February 2 is also that magickal day, Imbolc, where we’re about halfway between the winter solstice and the vernal equinox. The days are noticeably longer, especially at the end of the day, and a month from now, our day will be about an hour and  a half longer on both ends than it is now. THAT is exciting. Oh! And! Tomorrow night’s full moon should be spectacular if the skies clear. I love marking time by watching the sky. It’s a way for me to stay connected to the natural world, which is a lot harder for me to do now than it was 10 years ago, when I was home with the kids and the skies ruled our days; I now spend way more time in an office than I do outside, unfortunately. Thankful for windows.

Related: Today is a particularly interesting day for me at work. The meetings themselves pack a wallop just by their sheer number (and on a Monday!), but one of those meetings involves a project I’d love to work on and I hope it goes well.

This is Red Five. I’m going in.

Roads Less Traveled

A couple of nights ago, I dropped Lilly off at her friend’s house and decided to take some back roads to get home. The settling sun was providing some epic light, it wasn’t too cold, and I had some time to kill. It was a luscious pre-dusk-January-Saturday feeling.

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Geese and other birds seem to move around this time of year in this part of Illinois (perhaps they’re confused by our weather? I know I am), so when I saw the kite in the photo above from a distance as I drove along, I wanted to get a closer look at the “birds” that were moving in such excellent concert with each other. I navigated the patchwork of rural roads to get closer to them so I could get some decent snaps. In so doing, I flashed back to my days of running the farmers’ market here – I’d go out to visit farmers on their land, trying to make sense of county roads and state roads and wondering if the GPS was KIDDING ME by bringing me to some isolated dirt road a hundred miles from home. Anyway, as I got closer and the “birds” didn’t move forward, it became obvious I was not looking at birds at all, but an enormous (and unattended) kite. I stopped the car in front of the house to get a photo. A very large and very fuzzy collie watched me intently from the driveway; I stayed on my side of the road, while the sun gilded everything generously with the last rays of the day. I admired the house to which the kite belonged, a cute little mid-century modern-ish affair just out of the frame above. And, to my delight, I watched many hundreds of very confused geese flying north in huge Vs high above my head. It was a perfect moment, one of many I’ve spent on back roads in Illinois watching thunderstorms on the horizon, comets in the heavens, and now birds and kites on the breeze.

LOTSA (Lisa’s Open Tabs Saved Aggressively):

GenX/Millennials vacationing with their Boomer parents (sorry for the generalizations)

One of my internet favorites, Melody Kramer

NYT: Write your way to happiness

I’m coconut oil-curious

Last week’s episode of MidAmerican Gardener

Medium is one of my favorite places to stumble upon thought-provoking writing

My friend Jessica did this fascinating interview with Bjork, and…

It’s Not Just Bjork: Women Are Tired of Not Getting Credit for Their Own Music

The Heritage Radio Network has some AWESOME podcasts, including Grace Bonney‘s “After the Jump”

The Goat Must Be Fed (digital journalism)

This piece on the cause of addiction is powerful (as are some of the comments)

So many blog entries this month. I’d say I don’t recognize myself, what with all this blogging, but… it’d be a lie.

Shorn Off, Pt. 2

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But first, a central Illinois sunset.

Much has happened since I was in Sidney, IL at 7 Sisters Farm, but recent footage review brought it all back. Most alarming: Spring has been so slow in arriving – we shot over a month ago and the landscape is only now starting to noticeably change. I wonder when the trees will fully leaf out; we’re a couple weeks away, still, from flowering trees.

Anyway. While my philosophy with BYI has always been to participate as much as possible in whatever’s going on, I was feeling a little weird about attempting to shear a sheep.

[When my son was little, I used to shave his head using electric clippers, and the shearing tool we were going to be using was basically a (much) larger version of those, but the clippers were heavy, and sheep’s wool, I discovered when I met “my” sheep, Dawn, is super-thick and springy. Shaving a head is pretty basic – it’s nice and round. Sheep’s bodies are not one shape – they’re many shapes. There are bony parts sticking out as well as super-smooth round parts. There are folds of skin and there are places where you have to be really careful. Also? Dawn was pregnant. I worried about her lamb in there.]

When Dick, one of the instructors, presented Dawn, waiting gamely on her stand, to me and my shearing partner Roxanne, I almost – ALMOST – asked Roxanne to do the job herself. Roxanne (you’ll meet her in the video) is young, interested in farming and livestock, and seemed quite fearless. She would have been great on her own. However, I a) did not want to disappoint Dick and the other instructor, Harold, by crapping out and b) did not want to disappoint myself by passing up a chance to learn something awesome from these amazing gentlemen. So when Dick told me it was my turn after Roxanne had hers, I grasped the (huge) clippers and gingerly had a go at Dawn’s wool along her flank. I won’t give anything else away, but the story ends with Dawn being safely shorn and Roxanne and I both feeling exhilarated, almost, that we had shorn (most of) a sheep and had not injured it or ourselves, plus… we had contributed, in some small way, to the gathering of the wool for the season.

Dawn

Work has begun on putting this episode (BYI2) together for a release date in early May. We just pre-interviewed the subject of BYI3 and will shoot this week for a release date TBD, and BYIr83 will air this week. Here’s a clue as to its subject matter:

Worms

More soon!